Disclaimer:  Paramount owns all things Star Trek Voyager.  I don’t.  Only borrowing                 

                     them. Etc. Etc. Etc.

Rating:          NC17.

Summary:     Believing that Kathryn doesn’t need him, Chakotay leaves Earth but

                      unable to face life without her, he returns only to learn that she has been

                      killed.  When an old Maquis friend tells him that she’s still alive but

                      a prisoner, Chakotay must return to his old life to try and rescue her

                      but will there be anything left of Kathryn for him to bring back?  

                  



WARNING:   This story contains graphic material of a violent and sexual nature.

                        If you are offended by such, please do not read on.







THE DARKEST NIGHT.

By KAT LADY.





PART THREE.





As summer passed into fall, Kathryn inched her way back more and more.  She would chew her food now but couldn’t feed herself and they still had to wash her and dress her.  Carol Stevens explained that she could jump back in one go or this could continue slowly for months.  Either way, she felt her patient was on her way back to them.



“What we have here could end in two ways.  Kathryn could move slowly forward, dealing with what she can as she can, undertaking the basics first as she’s doing now.  In one way I’d prefer that.  The other way is harder on her but in the end it’s often the best.  She could just suddenly snap as everything falls into place.  So far she seems to be following the first route but often they can just jump to the second with no warning.”  Gretchen leaned forward.



“What do we do if she…jumps to the second route, as you call it?  Do we just let it happen or comfort her or what?  Doctor, we’re blind in all this.  I know Kathryn probably better than anyone and Phoebe knows another side to her that I don’t.  Chakotay knows another side again and they all tie up but please, tell us what to do if she just lets go.”  Carol smiled gently.



“Gretchen, you just be there for her, hold her until the storm passes.  Call me and I’ll be right over but basically hold her and reassure her.  Be careful with her though during all this if it happens…just watch her…she might hurt herself…”  She saw the shocked faces.  “Please…I don’t mean deliberately…although that is something we need to discuss later down the road…remembering such horror can…”  She quickly changed back to her original advice.  “Just hold her securely, make sure she doesn’t hit off anything.  It might be better if Chakotay does that, as he’s the strongest and Kathryn could well have a strength during this that will be beyond her usual level of strength.  You saw that when we showed her the image.”  They all nodded.  “One other thing…restraining her is probably going to add to the horrors in her mind.  She’ll travel back there and your arms will feel like theirs…”  Chakotay groaned and felt Phoebe’s reassuring hand on his.  “You will have to restrain her though or she could really hurt herself.  Keep talking as you hold her if it comes to this.”  Carol smiled in reassurance at them and stood to leave.  “Just try and be positive.  I know it’s hard but I truly believe we’ll beat this.”  They thanked her as she left and settled down for another night.



Four days later, Phoebe needed to take her mother into the city for the old lady’s annual physical and worried about leaving Chakotay alone with Kathryn.



“Are you sure you’ll be all right?  I can try and find someone else to take mom…”  Chakotay smiled and pulled her into his arms.



“You go on.  I’ll be fine.  Besides you need the break and I’ll call you if anything happens.”  Phoebe smiled, knowing he was right and left the house.



Chakotay sat Kathryn in the living room and read to her, enjoying the quiet of the house.  As the room got dim with the evening sun sinking, he stood and turned on the old fashioned lamp that Gretchen insisted on keeping.  He knocked against the shade which covered the main light fitting, causing the light to shine directly into Kathryn’s eyes.  Immediately she reacted and jumped up, her screams filling the room.  Chakotay stood frozen for a moment as she threw herself forward, crashing against  the coffee table and falling to the floor.  She was back on her feet at once and headed for the glass patio doors before Chakotay snapped out of it.  He grabbed her just before she would have plunged through the glass and pulled her back.  She kept screaming and fought him, her small fists hitting off him and her nails scratching at him.



“Kathryn…Kathryn…it’s Chakotay…it’s over…you’re home…no one can hurt you now…they’re gone…they’re dead…it’s over…”  He shouted above her screams but his words didn’t reach her and her struggle continued.  He knew his hold would bruise her but at this moment, that was the least of his worries.  He desperately needed to contact Carol but couldn’t risk letting Kathryn go for a second.  As he struggled on, he heard the front door and running feet and then Phoebe was there.  She quickly moved to help, calling to her mother to get the Doctor and together they managed to get the struggling and terrified woman onto the sofa, both of them gasping for air with the effort.  Kathryn continued screaming and fighting them but they held her down.



Within minutes, Carol Stevens had arrived, beaming directly to the house, the transporter coordinates having been established as a medical emergency.  Chakotay fought his tears and filled Carol in on what had happened and how the light shining into Kathryn’s eyes had triggered the reaction.  She quickly appraised the situation and pressed a mild sedative to Kathryn’s neck as Chakotay and Phoebe fought to hold her still.  Within a few seconds, the drug took effect and Kathryn’s fighting lessened and eventually disappeared.  She just lay against them now, tears pouring down her face and crying out. 



“don’t…please don’t…oh God…help me…no more…”  Her plaintive words tore at them all and they knew she was back in the prison in her mind.  Slowly her words ceased and she just lay limply in Chakotay’s strong arms as he rocked her and whispered softly to her.  Phoebe sat beside them and stroked her sister’s face, whispering quietly to her also.  Carol stood back and slipped a supporting arm around Gretchen Janeway, as the old woman stood crying as she witnessed the pain her daughter was going through.



Within twenty minutes, an exhausted Kathryn slipped off to sleep and Chakotay gently carried her up to bed as Phoebe walked ahead of him and then helped him settle her.  Occasionally she twitched in her sleep and murmured something as if in a nightmare and they knew she probably was.  Carol came in behind them and checked her over, satisfying herself as to Kathryn’s physical state.  She quickly healed the small bruises which had been inflicted during her restraint and then she checked Chakotay and healed the numerous scratches he had. 



“I’ll give her another sedative now and that should get her through the night.  Stay with her at all times though, as she could still wake up in a panic and hurt herself again.”  Chakotay nodded, remembering how close Kathryn had come to smashing through the glass doors.



“What about when she does wake…in the morning…what can we expect…?”  Carol sighed deeply.



“It’s impossible to predict.  Most likely she’ll remember quite a bit but how she reacts to those memories I can’t say.  She might well try and deny them or she might accept them all and react accordingly, much like this evening.  I’ll leave you some hypos in case it gets too bad but try and avoid using them if you can unless you feel you have no other choice.  I’d prefer to let her face this head on and deal with it.  I want you to know that there will probably be other episodes like this one although I hope they won’t be as bad.  You could also start to see nightmares starting now.  I’ll keep in constant touch with you and call me anytime day or night, if you have any worries.”  Chakotay and Phoebe smiled their thanks and Phoebe walked the Doctor out, also going to check on her mother to try and comfort her too.



Chakotay sat through the night watching Kathryn as she tossed and turned and occasionally cried out.  Each time he leaned over and soothed her with his hands and voice as much as he could and it worked for a while, until the next image filled her mind.  He dozed a little towards morning and suddenly jerked awake, not sure what had disturbed him.  He glanced towards Kathryn and suddenly saw that she was watching him.  He smiled softly and tried to read her eyes but couldn’t.  She stared at him a moment longer and then turned away.  He stood up immediately and went to the other side of the bed where he sat beside her.



“Kathryn?”  She didn’t look at him but he knew she had heard him and that she was aware of his presence.  He stroked her face and felt her flinch under his touch.  “Kathryn, it’s all right.  You’re home.”  He didn’t know what else to say.  Eventually she just closed her eyes and drifted off to sleep again.



Two days passed this way, silence during the day and crying and screaming in her sleep at night, and Chakotay was convinced now from her eyes that Kathryn remembered everything.  The pain he saw in them from time to time could only come from her remembered pain and he talked endlessly, trying to reassure her that it was all over, that they were all there for her and that she was safe now but she never reacted to his words.  Phoebe and Gretchen were getting the same from her and Carol called all the time and tried to tell them they just had to be patient.  She told them that Kathryn would talk to them when she was ready and that she was probably just trying to deal with things in her own mind first or fight her mind’s denial of what she remembered.  Gretchen and Phoebe accepted this, desperately needing to believe it but Chakotay worried that something more was going on or would go on and he refused to leave Kathryn for more than a few minutes, terrified of something he couldn’t name.



As time passed, Kathryn moved around more on her own and began to do small things for herself but still she didn’t speak at all.  She had lapses where she would just stare ahead of her, seeing horrors known only to her and when she came out of them, tears would pour down her face as Chakotay or Phoebe held her tightly to them.  On one occasion, Chakotay found her in the bathroom on the floor, her back to the wall as she repeatedly banged her head off the hard tiles behind her, her blood staining them.  Carol quickly called and healed the injury and watched as Kathryn acted as if nothing had happened. 



Gretchen still spent hours with her daughter trying to get through to her and slowly Kathryn seemed to relax more as her mother held her.  As winter began, Kathryn started to speak the odd word and responded gradually when spoken to.  Chakotay watched on as she inched her way back to something resembling independence but couldn’t shake the feeling in his gut that something more was going on in Kathryn’s head.



By Christmas, they had a very withdrawn Kathryn who tended to herself now and ate what was put in front of her.  She spoke when she needed to, answering in monosyllables when asked anything but all conversation was kept within safe parameters and none of them quite had the nerve to push it.  For the most part, Kathryn acted the way a small, frightened child might.  Carol urged them to take their time and let Kathryn herself speak of what had happened when she was ready, explaining that she needed to feel secure in the present before attempting to address the past.  She tried to make them see that they actually had no proof that Kathryn remembered everything and were just assuming that she did, mainly because of the nightmares, and she explained that the images that came to Kathryn in her sleep, could well be shut off from her mind during her waking hours.  Chakotay never said anything to the others but as he saw them accept the Doctor’s words, he knew within himself that Kathryn did remember all that had happened to her but he would never be able to prove it to them.  In the end, he kept his thoughts to himself and carried on.



As the new year arrived and brought with it the worst snow in forty years, Chakotay found himself unable to relax, constantly feeling something on the horizon, but never able to understand what it was.  Phoebe tried to reassure him that they were all fine but Chakotay still felt uneasy.  Having fallen into an exhausted sleep on the sofa one night, knowing that Phoebe was sitting with Kathryn, he was jerked awake by Kathryn’s sister, her eyes and voice frantic.



“Chakotay…Chakotay…wake up…she’s gone…”  Chakotay was on his feet immediately.



“Phoebe, calm down.  What do mean she’s gone…?”  He saw the young woman’s tears and panic.



“I nodded off and when I woke up, Kathryn was gone…her bed’s empty and I’ve checked the house but she’s not here….I checked mom and she’s still asleep…Chakotay…she’s out there…has to be…it’s freezing…”  Chakotay tried to remain calm. 



“We’ll find her…don’t worry…you stay here with Gretchen…I’ll look…”  He grabbed his boots and coat and headed out. 



It was still snowing but Chakotay was barely able to make out tracks in the snow.  He knew most people would be unable to follow them but suddenly things his father had taught him came back to him and he found himself drawing on his past, cursing himself for not having listened more as his father had tried to pass down the knowledge of generations.  He called out to Kathryn, pleading with her to answer him as the tracks grew ever fainter with the falling snow and then he lost them completely.  Fighting the bitter cold which was numbing his feet and hands, he struggled on against the driving snow and suddenly saw what looked like a dark shape in the whiteness ahead of him.  Finding reserves of energy he had been unaware of, he rushed forward and saw Kathryn lying deathly still in the snow. 



Chakotay skidded down in the snow beside her and rolled her over.  Her skin and lips were almost blue and he frantically checked for a pulse, unable to feel anything with his fingers numb.  Blowing on the almost frozen digits, he felt again and let out the breath he’d been holding as he felt the faint fluttering.  Using the small domestic commlink he carried, he tried to call Phoebe, hoping he was still within the half mile radius in which the link worked.  Phoebe’s voice came back to him and he heaved a sigh of relief.



“Phoebe, I found her.  She’s alive but she’s freezing.  Call the Doctor quickly.”  He cut the communication and picked Kathryn up in his arms.  Feeling the bitter cold slow him, he forced himself back towards the house, grateful for the fact that the wind was blowing the snow to his back now.



Carol was waiting when he made it back, totally exhausted and Chakotay saw how hastily she had dressed, wondering how he could notice something like that at this moment in time.  He carried Kathryn quickly up the stairs and stood back as Carol went to work on her patient.  He moved back to the doorway to join Phoebe and Gretchen as they watched on anxiously. 



Within ten minutes, Carol was finished and asked Phoebe to get her some extra blankets and together they tucked them tightly around the unconscious Kathryn.



“She’s suffering from hypothermia.  This will warm up her gradually.  In an hour or two, try and get her into a warm bath, not hot.  Plenty of warm drinks when she comes round and just generally keep her warm but not too hot.  She’ll be fine in a day or two.  For now, she’ll sleep for a hour or so and if she feels cold to your touch, wake her and get her into the bath.”  The young woman looked very tired.  Phoebe looked up from tucking the blanket in as her mother spoke.



“What happened?  Why would she go out there?”  The old woman was close to tears.  Phoebe shrugged her shoulders.



“Mom, she’s not thinking straight…it’s my fault for falling asleep and not watching her…”  Carol quickly cut in.



“That’s not going to help at all.  There is no fault or blame here.  You have to just look at it and see that we were lucky and that she’s fine and let it go at that.  You must understand that she’s still very confused and didn’t realize what she was doing or where she was going.”  Reluctantly Phoebe accepted the words of someone with more understanding of the situation.  Gretchen went over to her younger daughter and hugged her.



Chakotay looked at Carol and smiled.  “Thanks for everything Carol.  I’ll see you downstairs.”  The Doctor was smart enough to understand what he was really asking.  Leaving Kathryn in the care of her mother and sister, they made their way down the stairs.  Once in the kitchen, Chakotay turned to Carol and spoke his mind.



“Do you really believe what you said up there or is there more?”  He held his gaze steady.  Carol put her bag down and sank into a chair.



“What do you think happened tonight?”  Chakotay sat opposite her and kept his voice low.



“I think Kathryn remembers everything and I think tonight she set out into the snow not planning on coming back.”  Carol drew in a deep breath and exhaled slowly.



“That’s quite a lot to think Chakotay.  You really believe Kathryn tried to kill herself?”  Chakotay didn’t answer and just nodded his head.  Carol looked away a moment then back at him.  “OK I’ll be honest with you.  I don’t know.  It’s very likely though that you’re right, although I also have to believe that you’re totally wrong.  Chakotay, it’s six of one and half a dozen of the other.  I just don’t have the answer for you.  If however you’re right, then we’d better tell the others and keep a closer eye on her.”  Chakotay nodded and looked up suddenly to see Phoebe standing there, tears running down her cheeks.



“I thought it was just me who was thinking that way…I …”  Chakotay stood and went to her, hugging her and then sat her down.  “Chakotay…I thought hard all the time you were out there looking for her…and I remembered before…when Kathryn was younger…do you know about that?”  He nodded and let Phoebe tell the Doctor about Kathryn’s previous experience in the snow and wanting to just lie down in it and sleep, until a homeless puppy intervened.  “I don’t want mom to know about this.  It would hurt her too much.”  They all agreed.  Chakotay turned to Carol.



“I just knew, felt it, that she remembered everything.  I expected just the nightmares or during the day, maybe flashbacks, something like that but… she just acts… I don’t know… half of me thinks she’s in denial and blocking it out…the other half thinks she knows and…”  Carol leaned forward.



“Look, we’ve spoken of this before, how sometimes trauma can be so deep that a person can even shut their mind off in sleep.  Kathryn as we know, has passed that stage.  It’s the waking hours we worry about now.  If she remembers it all, it could explain tonight.  There can be denial or there can be an acceptance on a deeply disturbing level where they just believe this is all there will ever be, that they can never move past it.  The horror becomes their only existence and they try and force the thoughts away.  She can also be so disturbed by what happened that she’ll just force herself to function and not think about anything else.  It’s also possible that she knows in her mind but can’t let anything show because that would mean facing it and facing you.  She can’t do that yet.  For her to know that you all know, that’s very hard to deal with.  I think we should just keep a close watch on her and let her accept that you’re there for her and slowly over time, it’ll get easier to deal with for her, and for her to deal with you knowing.  If you’re right about tonight, that was her way to avoid it, avoid facing you all.  Just give her time to watch you and learn that it makes no difference to you all what happened.”  Chakotay and Phoebe nodded understanding.  They had no choice but to let Kathryn set her own pace now.



Phoebe bathed Kathryn during the night when she awoke feeling cold but no mention of the walk in the snow was mentioned, Kathryn’s eyes warning Phoebe off when she saw how empty they appeared.  Chakotay took over early the next morning and sat with her, watching her closely but Kathryn remained silent.



Over the next two weeks, no mention was made of the night in the snow and things returned to what had become normal to them all now.  The snow gradually melted, swelling the local rivers and Chakotay had hoped his fears would have melted with it but instead they grew and grew.



One afternoon as Kathryn slept, Chakotay took Phoebe out for a walk, both of them needing the break and the fresh air.  They returned to find a frantic Gretchen, telling them that Kathryn had disappeared again.  She explained that she had nodded off in her chair for a few moments, no more than five minutes and found her daughter missing when she woke.  Chakotay and Phoebe tried to reassure the old woman and set off to search the area, each of them going in the opposite direction to the other.



Something in Chakotay’s gut sent him towards the river which flowed by the end of the Janeway land behind some trees.  He knew the river was normally quiet but with the recent thawing, that it was now very swollen and wild.  He raced through the trees and stopped dead at the sight of Kathryn standing on a rock in her bare feet in the centre of the river, her nightgown flapping around her thin body.  She turned quickly when she heard him and he saw her tears.



“Kathryn…please love…come back in…”  He knew from her eyes that her mind was quite clear, that it would have to have been for her to think her way around what she was doing.  He glanced down and saw her dressing gown and slippers neatly arranged and folded on the ground at his feet and shook his head sadly.  She was thinking clearly all right.  “Kathryn please…don’t do this…think of your mother and sister…think of me even…but please think of yourself too…don’t do this…”  She looked back at him and he saw the devastation on her face.



“What else is there…I’ve no peace…it won’t go away and…I can’t face it…face anyone…all of you…”  Chakotay sighed.  Kathryn was back all right but what was there was almost destroyed.  He had waited so long now to hear her speak clearly but for it to be with these words, filled him with pain.



“Kathryn, listen to me, just listen.  I know how much you’re hurting, how much pain you’re in but you have to understand that your mom and sister are in pain too.  How can you put them through this again?  They lost you and got you back and then lost you again.  They get you back once more and they’ve been there for you all the time and now you want them to go through losing you a third time.  Kathryn please…at least think of them…let us help you…let us help you find peace…”  Her anguished scream shocked him.



“I can’t…”  She tried to gain some control.  “I watch you all…see your pity…”  Chakotay cut her off.



“That’s not pity Kathryn, it’s love and if you can’t tell the difference…  Kathryn we just want to help you and be there for you.  We need you…”  She stared deeply at him.



“Why do you need me…?  I understand them…but Chakotay you left…why are you here now…why have you been here all this time…?   I don’t understand…”  She turned slightly on the rock and Chakotay stepped forward.



“Kathryn, please stay still.  It’s slippery…”  She wasn’t listening to him.



“You left and I looked for you…”  He squeezed his eyes tightly closed a minute and prayed for the strength and wisdom to say the right things.



“I left because I thought you were back with Mark and he told some of the crew that you were together again.  I left because I knew you’d been offered ‘Admiral’ and I didn’t want my past to tarnish that for you.  I left because I was a stupid fool…and because I was afraid and a hundred other reasons I regret every day…and then I came back and was told you were dead.”  He saw her look at him now and saw that he had her attention.  He crept closer to the river bank.  “Kathryn, when I was told you were dead…you have no idea of what that did to me…they told me you went down with your ship…and later on then, I found out through an old Maquis friend that you were alive but being held… I learned where you were and went after you…Tom and B’Elanna came with me…we found you…oh God Kathryn…don’t do this to me please…I love you and need you…please come back…”  He saw her tears pouring down her face and the confusion there.



“You don’t want me…you couldn’t…I don’t even want myself…”  He inched forward.



“Kathryn I love you, we all love you…please come back… as to the pain and the memories…God love, I know they’re there but I can help them go away if you just let me …you have so much waiting for you…love and friendships…your family and me…your friends.  We’ll face it all together if you just let me be there for you…”  Suddenly her tears slowed and he saw a wild anger in her.



“No…no you can’t…I know…I know…I know what they did to me…you know…I know you do…you say you found me so you saw…you can’t ever want…I’m nothing but their leftovers…they destroyed me…I’m nothing…empty and dirty…you don’t want…”  Chakotay felt his own anger grow.



“How dare you Kathryn Janeway…how dare you damned well say that…don’t you dare try and tell me that I can’t love you…you insult me by thinking any of what happened would make a difference to me…I thought you were strong…couldn’t be destroyed…I thought we were strong together…that you loved me too…that you thought I was better than that…but if you think that badly of me….think that I’m like that…damn you Kathryn.  You know what…I don’t know all of what you went through and if you ever want to tell me…that’s fine… and if you don’t…that’s fine too…but I love you more than anything and need you beyond words…but if you feel that about me and think of me like that…think that little of us…maybe you had better jump…and when you do, I’ll jump after you because I don’t want to live without you any more…I waited years for you and then I made the biggest mistake of my life and left…and then I come back and I’m told I’ve lost you for good.  When I found you, it was a second chance for me…for us…or so I thought…but I guess I was wrong…”   He dropped his head, his eyes unable to look at her anymore.  Slowly he turned to the side.



“Chakotay…”  He ignored her a moment.  “Chakotay…I’m sorry…I…it’s just so hard to face…to remember…I’m sorry…it just won’t go away…it’s all that’s there…every minute…it’s all people will ever see when they look at me…”  He looked up and saw her eyes pleading with him.  He knew his own pain showed in his eyes but he kept looking at her. 



“People will always see YOU, Kathryn, the woman you are.  You insult us and underestimate us all if you think that’s all we are.  As to the rest, we replace that with what was before and leave it behind… get rid of it… fill the gap with what can be…I know it won’t be easy but you can do it if you let us help you…Kathryn, you did nothing wrong…you’ve nothing to feel embarrassed about…I love you and your mom and sister love you…so many people care so much…you can beat this…please…come back to us…we love you…I love you…”  He stretched a hand out, tears pouring down his face and his love for her obvious to anyone.  Suddenly she reached out to him and stepped forward, back towards him.



Chakotay never really understood what happened next.  One minute she was there reaching for him, the next he heard her cry out and saw her slip from the rock and plunge into the raging water.  He pulled his boots and jacket off at lightening speed as his eyes scanned the turbulent water.  He saw her downstream a little, fighting to keep her head above the water which tried to claim her, but each time the swell beat her back under.  He raced down the river bank and managed to get ahead of her then dived in.  He saw her being carried towards him and cried out as he saw her head smash off a rock and her body go under the water.  Heading in her direction, the power of the river almost too much for him, he desperately clawed around in the water, his fingers grasping nothing.  He felt something hit off his leg and twisted around and then saw her, face down being carried further downstream.  He drew on an almost superhuman strength and fought his way towards her, defying the current which tried to drag him away from her. 



Finally he reached her and managed to pull her head clear of the water then struggled with her towards the bank.  Thankfully the river was less deep here and the current not as strong.  He heaved Kathryn up onto the bank and pulled himself out behind her, his sodden clothing adding to the weight and requiring more effort.  Without stopping, he rolled Kathryn into her stomach and pressed down hard on her back, keeping her head to the side.  He watched as water was pushed from her lungs then rolled her over and listened for any sound of her breathing.  There was none.  Quickly he started CPR and repeatedly called to her as he alternated between chest compressions and breathing into her mouth.  The memories of them in a similar situation before came to haunt him and he prayed for the same outcome. 



Suddenly Kathryn coughed and vomited up water, her back arching with the effort to replace the water in her lungs with air.  Chakotay rolled her onto her side and held her as she drew in ragged breaths.  She was semi conscious and unaware of where she was.  He quickly picked her up and forced his legs to work as he carried her back to the house.



“Kathryn, you have to stop doing this.  I’m too old for carrying you back to the house every time…”  He hugged her tighter in his arms and then saw Phoebe racing towards him.  He screamed for her to get help and barely made it up the steps into the house and then Phoebe was helping him, easing the burden and they lay a now fully unconscious Kathryn on the sofa.  Once again, Carol was there within minutes.



“She…she fell…into the river…slipped on a rock…”  He saw the looks he got from Carol and Phoebe and just shut up and let Carol go to work.



“How long was she in the water Chakotay?”  He drew in deep breaths.



“A few minutes…and she hit her head on a rock…the current was strong…I couldn’t reach her and…she…she’d stopped breathing…I did CPR…”  Carol nodded.



“She’s breathing now but there’s still water in her lungs.  My main concern is something called secondary drowning, when there’s still water in the lungs.  It can be like drowning all over again, fills the lungs back up.  I’ll make sure we have it all.  I want her in hospital though.  That’s a nasty gash on her head and there’s most likely a concussion.”  Chakotay and the others nodded.  “I want to check you as well.”  Chakotay wasn’t minding her.



Gretchen nodded off in her chair as they sat and watched Kathryn sleeping in her room at the hospital.  Phoebe glanced at Chakotay and her voice reached him as a whisper.



“Chakotay, the river…was it what I think?  You said ‘slipped’ but…”  He looked at her and smiled sadly.



“She was going to…that was why she was there.  But Phoebe, she did slip.  We talked for want of a better word and she was coming back…stepping off the rock.  I don’t know what happened, I guess her foot slipped.  All I know is my heart almost stopped when I saw her fall in…the rest you know…”  Phoebe reached a hand out.



“She really talked to you?”  He nodded.



“She’s there all right.  She does remember it all but Phoebe, she’s badly hurt and in a lot of pain.  There’s a lot there for her to deal with, face again.  She actually thought I wouldn’t want her because of what happened…I got angry, shouted at her…I didn’t mean to but it worked.  She was reaching out to me when she slipped…oh God I nearly lost her again…”  He broke down and Phoebe hugged him tightly to her.



“Chakotay, you didn’t lose her and neither did we.  We go forward now, or I should say onward.  We’ll get her through this and get her any help she needs.  She can talk to us or Carol, whatever she’s more comfortable with but we’ll do this, OK partner?”  Chakotay smiled.  They had become partners in the business of Kathryn Janeway and they shared one hell of an interest in their investment, one they would never let go of.



ON TO PART FOUR.



RETURN TO STORY INDEX ONE.

RETURN TO STORY INDEX TWO.


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